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Avniel Ghuman, PhD Awarded NIMH Biobehavioral Research Award for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS)

Dr. Ghuman has been awarded the Biobehavioral Research Award for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) from the National Institute of Mental Health for his project entitled "Inside the Social Perception Network: Dynamics, Connectivity, and Stimulation." This is a prestigious 5-year R01 award that the NIMH gives to 7-10 early stage scientists annually to "support the research and research career development of outstanding, exceptionally productive scientists who are in the early, formative stages of their careers and who plan to make a long term career commitment to research in specific mission areas of the NIMH".

The goal of Dr. Ghuman's project is to use magnetoencephalography (MEG) and direct, invasive recordings in humans undergoing neurosurgical evaluation for epilepsy to understand the millsecond-by-millisecond dynamics of how visual information with social and affective relevance is processed in the brain. Furthermore, recordings from multiple brain areas will be used to assess how the network of regions involved in social and affective perception interact with one another during cognition. Finally, the regions of this network will be stimulated using direct electrical stimulation through the implanted electrodes to better understand how perturbing the network alters social and affective perception.

These data will be used to test and further delineate a three-stage model of social and affective information processing dynamics in humans. Testing this model will yield translationally relevant and testable hypotheses regarding spatiotemporal neural targets for using brain stimulation to modulate social and affective perception in a controlled manner. This line of work will ultimately inform evidence-based stimulation therapies for disorders that involve aberrant social and affective perception, such as schizophrenia, depression, PTSD, and autism.
 
Silvio O. Conte Center for Translational Mental Health Research
Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (MH103204)

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